Who owns Frida Kahlo? In a perfect world we’d say no one. But when the iconic figure passed on, the rights to her image and her name had to be owned by someone in order to approve its use. Michael Jackson has an estate as does Elvis Presley, as will Madonna when she passes and so on. But Frida Kahlo’s estate is a little confusing and now we’re understanding why. We’ve always wondered why the Frida Kahlo estate would approve products that bear her image on menstrual pads or credit cards, and the like.
There are two people that are claiming rights to Frida Kahlo, and there both relatives. Her niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, is the owner and founder of Frida Kahlo Corporation — whom has given the licensing for various Frida-related products. Frida’s great-niece, Mara Romeo, is said to be the “sole owner of the rights of the image of the illustrious Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.”
Yesterday, the family of Frida released a statement saying they did not approve the making of the Frida Kahlo Barbie Doll.
The family is asking that they create a doll that actually looks like Frida Kahlo.
Pablo Sangri, Romeo’s lawyer, tells the BBC that his client isn’t looking for compensation over the doll but rather the creation of one that fits the image of her great aunt.
“We will talk to them about regularizing this situation, and by regularizing I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was,” Sangri tells the BBC. Romeo says the Barbie doll doesn’t look like Frida, and says they lightened her eye color.
But Mattel — the maker of the Barbie doll — says they did get the doll approved by the corporation owned by her other niece Isolda Pinedo Kahlo.
“The Frida Kahlo Corporation actively participated in the process of designing the doll, Mattel has its permission and a legal contract that grants it the rights to make a doll of the great Frida Kahlo,” the company’s statement said, according to The New York Times.
The two nieces have clashed over the use of Frida’s name and face for years. It seems that one side of the family wants to promote her art and the actual work she left behind while the other side wants to sell products that reflect strength as Frida did.
In 2007, Cristina Kahlo, daughter of another niece, told the Chicago Tribune that she only cared about the art and wasn’t interested in the sale of products.
“What we are interested in is the cultural side,” Cristina Kahlo said in 2007. “I have no interest in getting involved with them. I don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. The products aren’t making Frida Kahlo any more important.”